With the first hard freeze of the season expected Thanksgiving night, Ardmore Fire Marshal Clyde Ellis said southern Oklahoma residents can take a few simple steps to reduce the risk of being injured or dying in a house fire.


With the first hard freeze of the season expected Thanksgiving night, Ardmore Fire Marshal Clyde Ellis said southern Oklahoma residents can take a few simple steps to reduce the risk of being injured or dying in a house fire.

 

More than 3,500 Americans die and approximately 20,000 are injured in fires each year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. And an overwhelming number of those fires occur in the home.

 

Thanksgiving remains the leading day for cooking fires, with three times as many as on an average day, according to the National Fire Protection Association. On Thanksgiving 2008, U.S. fire departments responded to 1,300 home cooking fires compared to 420 such fires on an average day.

 

Ellis recommends the following time-tested ways to insure you remain safe on Thanksgiving and all other days of the year:

SMOKE ALARMS
Buy a smoke alarm at any hardware or discount store. It’s inexpensive protection for you and your family. Ellis said having a working smoke alarm in your home can double your chances of surviving a house fire. Test it monthly and replace the battery at least once a year. Ellis recommends people change their smoke alarm batteries when they set their clocks back an hour in the fall.
“If you didn’t install new batteries when the time changed, you should do it now,” Ellis said.

 

CARBON MONOXIDE ALARMS
Each year in America, carbon monoxide poisoning claims approximately 400 lives and sends another 20,000 people to hospital emergency rooms for treatment. Unless you have electric heat, install at least one carbon monoxide alarm with an audible warning signal near sleeping areas and outside individual bedrooms. Never use your range or oven to help heat your home and never use a charcoal grill or hibachi in your home or garage.

 

HOME HEATING
Ellis said home heating systems and furnaces should be cleaned and serviced once a year by a licensed technician. Chimneys should be kept clean since creosote buildup can ignite a chimney fire that could easily spread. Unless you have a fireplace that gets a lot of use, Ellis said chimneys can be cleaned every other year.
Portable heaters need space around them, and Ellis said they should be turned off when you leave the room.
“They are only designed to supplement other heating sources,” he said. “Don’t use them with extension cords.”

 

ESCAPE PLAN
Ellis said every family should make and practice a home fire escape plan.

Stay low to the floor under the smoke when escaping from a fire Sleep with the door closed and never open doors that are hot to the touch Practice getting out two different ways and make sure your windows are operable Get out and stay out Select a place where everyone can meet after escaping from the house

 

SMOKING SAFETY
“I recommend that you always smoke outside the house,” Ellis said.
Every year, almost 1,000 smokers and non-smokers are killed in home fires caused by cigarettes and other smoking materials. Put your cigarettes out in a can filled with sand.

 

COOKING SAFETY
Many families gather in the kitchen to spend time together, but it can be one of the most hazardous rooms in the house if you don’t practice safe cooking behaviors. The NFPA said that cooking equipment fires are still the leading cause of U.S. home fires and fire injuries, and the third leading cause of fire deaths.
Ellis said don’t multi-task while you are cooking and pay attention to what you are doing. Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove. Don’t leave flammable materials, such as pot holders or paper towels, around the stove. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher handy if a fire does break out. And if you are deep frying a turkey, make sure you do outdoors and away from any buildings.